* Journalist, part time contractor, captured in stealth operation
* Eze Elechi calls on authorities to look into stealing of documents of retired civil servants
By Codratus Godson
What looks like a blackmail racket gone sour has led a port Harcourt-based journalist into a big mess beginning with an arrest and detention.
The journalist, who is said to also be a in Rivers State whose name was given as Innocent Amadi is now cooling his feet in police net for allegedly going beyond investigative journalism to something that looks like stealing of documents for something suspected to be a blackmail racket.
The ‘Independent Monitor Newspaper’ reporter is said not to be new in such rackets but on Wednesday, October 28, 2020, he met a sad outcome while in action.
According to eye witnesses, Amadi was caught red handed at the Rivers State Civil Service Commission (CSC) by police attached to the place.
According to the eye witnesses, the journalist made himself available to a plot to steel out copies of Eze/Sir Mike Elechi’s certificates and other documents at the state CSC. It was gathered that Elechi is a legal tussle with one Chief Okechukwu Okah and his group. The Okah group had alleged that Elechi’s certificates were fake, an issue that portends source of embarrassment and implication to the former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information. The matter is said to be with the Economics and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
It was gathered that the journalist (Amadi) had come to Eze Elechi and allegedly played out the rehearsed storyline, urging the Eze to part with a specific sum of money in order to ‘kill’ the story to avoid the embarrassment but Eze Elechi was said to have smelt a rat and told him he was not interested in killing any story and that he was sure his certificates were genuine.
The journalist is said to have benefited from the Eze very much in the past. It was believed that the journalist must have changed to the camp trying hard to implicate the Eze.
The Omerelu-born journalist in Ikwere LGA of River State is said to have made confessional statement to the police where he is said to have confirmed that the chief of the other camp assembled some journalists with a mouth watering offer to procure the documents at the CSC in order to use the publication to boost his court case against Eze Elechi.
The journalists may have been briefed to search out and remove Eze Elechi’s documents at the CSC for the purpose of blackmail and character assassination and also to use such publication to further his court case against Eze Elechi alleging he became permanent secretary fraudulently.
The journalist further confessed that he eventually approached an administrative officer in charge of records in the Civil Service Commission for the deal and lured the officer his company’s (Ideca & Sons Services Nig) Polaris Bank cheque No 47923729 valued at N50,000. He allegedly promised to give out another cheque with an increased amount at end of the deal when all the service records of Eze Elechi would have been procured.
The storekeeper is said to have accepted the offer and started bringing out the documents in piece meal but became jithery and decided not to cash the cheque of September 17, 2020 but rather to inform the CSC authorities for necessary action.
The authorities were said to have asked him (storekeeper) to play along with the suspect and his group to a logical conclusion.
Thus, on Monday October 26, 2020, it was gathered, the duo (storekeeper and journalist) agreed to meet at the CSC to conclude their transaction but the coast was not clear and it was postponed to Wednesday October 28, 2020.
At this point, we learnt, the authorities of the CSC felt it was time to call in the police to pick the culprit especially with all the evidence already gathered including the video/audio recording of their conversation.
On the D-day, the police were said to have laid ambush at the CSC and the journalist eventually allegedly surfaced and collected an envelope believed to contain all the documents he had demanded for. It was gathered that he was hurrying out when he was accosted. A fierce struggle was said to have ensued before he was forced into a waiting police van.
When contracted Eze Elechi said he has left the journalist (Amadi) to his conscience and to God. He however urged the government to go to to every length to unravel all the issues surrounding people coming to the office to steal the records of retired and serving officers of the civil service.